Learn your auto rental rights while traveling and make your trip less stressful.
The simple part of automobile rentals is the basics—you need a valid driver’s license and a credit card. But, what many once took for granted—multiple drivers, inclusive liability insurance, and the ability to rent a car as long as you had a valid driver’s license—has changed and is not always part of the auto rental agreement.
NOTE: Debit cards, even with the MasterCard or Visa logo, will not be accepted by rental car companies at the time of rental. They may be used for payment upon return of the vehicle.
What most travelers know was not ever included in rental agreements, such as collision damage waiver, now can be included—to a greater or lesser extent—if certain credit cards are used to rent certain types of cars in certain circumstances for a certain length of time and when driven along certain types of roads.
None of this seems complex until you end up in an accident or have to modify a reservation at the last minute. Or, until you are faced with a rental agent who looks you straight in the eye and tells you your credit card collision damage waiver (CDW) doesn’t cover the automobile you are planning to rent. (At least he or she “can’t guarantee that the car is covered” or they “wouldn’t want to chance it.”)
Naturally, none of us wants to “chance it” with massive liabilities. This chapter will detail how much these policies vary. We’ve put together 12,000 + words of preparation before you meet with agents, including the following:
The basics of collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW)
Most people who rent automobiles do not need to pay for the additional collision damage waiver. They have other coverage which, in effect, duplicates the expensive rental car company waiver.
How credit card CDW works
The collision damage waiver you get with your credit card is not the same as purchasing CDW from the rental company. The rental company CDW releases you from any responsibility for damage to the vehicle in case of an accident. With credit card CDW you are personally responsible for any damages: in some cases, you must pay the car rental company for the damages and will be reimbursed by your credit card company.
Credit card coverage specifics
Learn the specific of what each card will and will not cover.